From the blog

Playing together

For the last few months both my students and those of my colleague Nanja Bakker have been studying hard with the music of Flidias, a piece for a harp ensemble and a storyteller. It is an ancient Irish story set to music by Dutch harpist Inge Frimout-Hei. The piece is well put together: every character has his/her own melody which will appear multiple times in the pieces. The stag Tuan for instance, is the king of the animals. You can hear his majestic walk in the piece called Tuan, which also brings to life his jumping over the fields. Later you can hear those same jumps when he goes to visit the people; he is looking for their help in freeing his son who has been captured by the evil Fand. Luckily all is well that ends well, but only after hearing the best music both men and elves have to offer.

When Nanja and I decided to do this piece with our students, we thought it would be easy: everyone studies their part, we organise a day to practise together and a day with a concert and we do not need to come up with complicated concepts for our student day…but somehow it kept getting bigger and bigger. When your students study for half a year on a piece, you want them to be able to perform it in a nice environment. Unfortunately, finding that place was not as easy as we thought, with many theatres charging commercial prices nowadays; luckily we ended up finding a place that was willing to help us. We performed in the beautiful theatre of de Klif in Nijmegen.
Once you have a stage, it turns out it is just a stage, so it needs some decor…. which ended up being a huge stag, lots of flowers and a lake, made by volunteers and students.
A nice background during the performance is also preferable, so that means working behind the computer until the early hours of the morning…not to mention reserving tickets and lunches. Well, you get the drift, we ended up doing a whole production, and it was worth every bit of effort we put in. It was AMAZING! We enjoyed it so much!

Studying part of an ensemble piece at home is not always nice; you end up missing half of the piece you are playing and sometimes end up studying just a few notes, but when you hear it in the ensemble, it all comes together. And seeing your parents/family/friends with huge smiles and an even bigger applauses, showing their appreciation afterwards, is heart-warming.

Will we be planning something like this next year? Who knows… for now there are videos (Liban, Fionn and the Men of the Fianna, Silver Salmon and the Rivers and Forests of Ireland) and photos (and more photos) to enjoy.
After the concert some of my adult students where enthused to play together on a more regular basis. That was enough reason for me to start an adult harp ensemble (following Nanja’s example) in Nijmegen. We will be meeting up once a month to play harp together. Would you like to join? You can let me know via the contact form.

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